After continuing operations for 14 years, the live video chatting website Omegle has shut down.
In a post, founder Leif K-Brooks shared his sentiments about the decision. He mentioned how the internet developed his personality, exposed him to new people and ideas, and made him develop new connections by just being online.
Brooks mentioned that Omegle kept users anonymous and let them talk to strangers online for as long or as short as they wanted to. He shared that virtually every tool can be used for good or evil and acknowledged that some users misused the platform.
He pointed out the recent criticism the platform was getting and suggested that the “only way to please these people is to stop offering the service.” He added:
“Omegle is the direct target of these attacks, but their ultimate victim is you: all of you out there who have used, or would have used, Omegle to improve your lives, and the lives of others. When they say Omegle shouldn’t exist, they are really saying that you shouldn’t be allowed to use it; that you shouldn’t be allowed to meet random new people online.”
According to BBC News, Omegle was under fire for many alleged cases of fostering pedophiles. Since the platform paired users with strangers randomly, there appeared a landmark case where an American girl named Alice (not her real name) was paired with a pedophile who abused her for three years.
The girl was a minor when the incident occurred, but the case was filed 10 years later in November 2021. Alice proceeded to sue Omegle in February 2023, but the company argued that the actions of the criminal had nothing to do with the website and rejected the idea of it being a haven for pedophiles.
Apart from this, in the last two years, there have been over 50 cases against pedophilia that mention Omegle from countries like the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Additionally, with the U.K. Online Safety Bill Act in place, Omegle found itself in an even more difficult position than before.
While Brooks argued that such acts were not under the control of Omegle and that the platform had helped catch criminals, nevertheless, the uneasiness pursued among the public.
In his post on Thursday, he wrote:
“I’ve done my best to weather the attacks, with the interests of Omegle’s users – and the broader principle – in mind. If something as simple as meeting random new people is forbidden, what’s next?”
Brooks ended his note by thanking users who enjoyed Omegle and used it positively and apologized that the platform had to be discontinued.